A Chronology of Reports of
Chemical Weapons use in Syria

[UPDATED] Working Draft Part 1 [January 2012 to 21 August 2013]

This is an account of all the reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, including warnings of imminent use. The Chronology is ordered according to the dates on which the events happened
[rather than the dates on which they were reported]

Read Part 2 of this Chronology here

Read Part 3 of this Chronology here

January 2012 to August 21 2013

January 2012: The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills granted export licences to an unnamed UK chemical company on 17 and 18 January 2012 to send dual-use chemicals [that are used in production of sarin] to Syria — for “use in industrial processes”. The Business Department said “it had accepted assurances from the exporting company that the chemicals would be used in the manufacture of metal window frames and shower enclosures”. A Department spokesperson said these chemicals were requested “for metal finishing of aluminium profiles used in making aluminium showers and aluminium window frames”.

July 2012: The permits were eventually revoked in July, in response to tightened European Union sanctions — before these chemicals were exported. Critics said “it appeared the substances had only stayed out of Syria by chance”…. “Although the export deal, first reported by The Sunday Mail in Scotland, was outlawed by the EU on 17 June last year in a package of sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the licences were not revoked until 30 July. Chemical weapons experts said that although the two substances have a variety of uses such as the fluoridation of drinking water, sodium and potassium fluoride are also key to producing the chemical effect which makes a nerve agent such as sarin so toxic”.  Source: “Revealed: UK Government let British company export nerve gas chemicals to Syria: UK accused of ‘breath-taking laxity’ over export licence for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride”, by Cahal Milmo, Andy McSmith , Nikhil Kumar, published by The Independent on 2 September 2013, posted here.

But, The Daily Mail reported on 7 September that: “Between July 2004 and May 2010 the Government issued five export licences to two companies, allowing them to sell Syria sodium fluoride, which is used to make sarin. The Government last night admitted for the first time that the chemical was delivered to Syria – a clear breach of international protocol on the trade of dangerous substances that has been condemned as ‘grossly irresponsible’… The sales were made at a time when President Bashar Assad was strongly suspected to be stockpiling the chemical weapons that have caused an international crisis. The UK firms delivered sodium fluoride to a Syrian cosmetics company for what they claim were legitimate purposes”.
Thomas Docherty MP, a member of the Commons Arms Export Controls Committee, said: ‘Previously we thought that while export licences had been granted, no chemicals were actually delivered. Now we know that in the build-up to the Syrian civil war, UK companies – with the backing of our Government – were supplying this potentially lethal substance. While the last export licence was issued in May 2010, these licences are obtained prior to manufacture and the industry standard is for four to five months to pass before the chemicals are delivered. So we are looking at late 2010 for the British supplies of sodium fluoride reaching Syria’…”
Source: “Britain sent poison gas chemicals to Assad: Proof that the UK delivered Sarin agent to Syrian regime for SIX years”, Mark Nicol, The Daily Mail, 7 September 2013 – updated 8 September 2013, posted here.

It appears that the news of these sales + export licenses was leaked in the immediate aftermath of the parliamentary defeat of the UK Government motion, at the end of August 2013, to join in proposed military strikes on Syria in the aftermath of the 21 August 2013 #CW attacks on Ghoutha which killed hundreds, possibly over 1500, of civilian casualties.

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13 July 13 2012: News reports indicated that the Syrian government was moving its #CW stockpile to one or more undisclosed location[s].
“Red Line” remarks:

13 July 13 2012: Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters at the Pentagon later that same day, however, that “The Syrian regime has control of its chemical weapons stockpiles”. He added: “We believe that the Syrian government has a very serious responsibility to protect its stockpiles of chemical weapons…We would, of course, caution them strongly against any intention to use those weapons. That would cross a serious red line”. And, he said, if any Syrian officials choose to utilize chemical weapons they will be held accountable for their actions. Little added that “We are watching very closely — not just the United States, but the international community — to make sure that they maintain control over those stockpiles, and of course, to ensure that they don’t use them”… Posted here.
20 August 2012 – US President Barak Obama: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus…That would change my equation…We’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans”.   Source: James Ball, the Washington Post, posted here.

18 July 2012: First Iranian letter [or “warning”] sent through Swiss Embassy in Tehran to Washington warning of preparations [by “rebels”] for #CW use in Syria.

Scott Peterson reported recently in the Christian Science Monitor that “Iran says that it warned the United States directly, in mid- and late- 2012, and at least once after that, about the risks of chemical weapons among the rebels…The [Iranian] letter acquired by the Monitor references messages from July 18 and Dec. 1, 2012″. Posted here.

Peterson’s report followed up on remarks by the new Foreign Minister of Iran, on 1 September 2013, that Iran had informed the US 9 months earlier that “extremist elements” are transferring chemical weapons to Syria. In an interview with the Iranian weekly, Aseman, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country had sent an official memo to the Swiss embassy in Tehran which represents the US interests section in Iran and informed US that ‘Hand-made chemical weapon Sarin is being transferring to Syria’… “In that memo we warned that extremist groups may use the chemical agents,” Zarif said — although the “Americans never replied to the memo.” This is published here.

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23 July 2013:  The French Government report issued on 2 September reported this: “Syria has long been equipped with a a massive chemical arsenal, together with many related delivery systems. The Syrian regime acknowledged as much on July 23, 2012 through its Foreign Affairs spokesperson, who confirmed that: ‘these different weapons [chemical and non-conventional] are stockpiled and secured under the supervision of the armed forces’…”

Source: ‘National executive summary of declassified intelligence: Assessment of Syria’s chemical warfare programme’, French Government report dated 2 September 2013, posted here.

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September 2012: US + Russian officials began work, bilaterally, without public announcement, on the issue of Syria’s #CW, as we learned a year later, on 14 September 2013:

Paul Adams @BBCPaulAdams 14 Sep 2013 — US officials in Geneva say Americans and Russians have been discussing how to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons for a year.

Marian Houk @Marianhouk 15 Sep 2013 — Transcript of background briefing by State Dept officials at US Mission in Geneva yesterday mentions 1 year of US-Russian contacts on #Syria

US State Dept official[s] briefing on background in Geneva on 14 September: “We had groups that have been meeting for a year between our national security councils to talk about the elimination + destruction of #CW…in Syria, because the entire world understood that if we got to a peace, we were going to have to deal with the chemical weapons… There’ve been, I think, 5 meetings of that group over the past yr, so we already had experience working w/ each other + sharing expert info…But we did not come to this meeting with a full-fledged plan”. This is posted here.

17 September 2012: Der Spiegel reports that Syria’s military had conducted #CW tests:
“The Syrian army is believed to have tested missile systems for poison gas shells at the end of August, statements from various witnesses indicate. The tests took place near a chemical weapons research center at Safira east of Aleppo, witnesses told SPIEGEL. A total of five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir. Iranian officers believed to be members of the Revolutionary Guards were flown in by helicopter for the testing, according to the statements…In recent months, the guards have been replaced and reinforced by more than 100 elite troops from the 4th Tank Division. In addition, power generators and large supplies of diesel have recently been brought to the plant to safeguard the supply of electricity in the event of an attack by rebels, reports say.  This is published here.

1 December 2012: Second Iranian letter, or “message”, sent through Swiss Embassy in Tehran to Washington warning of preparations [by “rebels”] for #CW use in Syria.

Scott Peterson reported recently in the Christian Science Monitor that “Iran says that it warned the United States directly, in mid- and late- 2012, and at least once after that, about the risks of chemical weapons among the rebels…The [Iranian] letter acquired by the Monitor references messages from July 18 and Dec. 1, 2012″. This is posted here.

 

3 December 2012: Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman wrote for Wired.com’s Danger Room: “Engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas [ isopropanol, popularly known as rubbing alcohol, and methylphosphonyl difluoride], an American official with knowledge of the situation tells Danger Room.  The U.S. doesn’t know why the Syrian military made the move, which began in the middle of last week and is taking place in central Syria…[Last week] the Syrian military began combining some of the binaries. ‘They didn’t do it on the whole arsenal, just a modest quantity’, the official says … Back in July, the Assad regime publicly warned that it might use its chemical weapons to stop ‘external’ forces from interfering in Syria’s bloody civil war. The announcement sparked a panic in the intelligence services of the U.S. and its allies, which stepped up their efforts to block shipments of precursors for those weapons from entering the country … Fighting around the Syrian capital of Damascus has intensified, as rebel troops captured a half-dozen bases around the city”.

Source: ‘Exclusive: U.S. Sees Syria Prepping Chemical Weapons for Possible Attack’, Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman, Wired.com’s Danger Room, 3 December 2012, posted  http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/syria-chemical-weapons-3/

 

14 December 2012: “With Syrian rebel forces gaining in strength, elite units loyal to Bashar Assad received a frightening order a few weeks ago: begin preparations that could lead to the use of chemical weapons…Danger Room first reported last week that U.S. officials recently saw indications that at least some Syrian military forces mixed precursor chemicals for sarin gas, which got the weaponized stocks to the point where they could be loaded onto planes and dropped.

The Washington Post’s Joby Warrick adds detail to that account. Some elite troops received “specific orders” to prep the weapons. At least one Syrian army unit was caught on surveillance photos loading “special military vehicles” that could be used to transport the weapons…  Warrick writes that there were fears throughout the U.S. intelligence community that ‘a single commander could unleash the deadly poisons without orders from higher up the chain of command’… Assad’s motivations remain unclear to U.S. officials, but according to Warrick, someone in the Syrian chain of command provided instructions to prep sarin for potential battlefield use about two weeks ago. Assad’s intentions are unknowable, but using sarin will most foreclose on the life-saving option of finding a foreign country willing to accept Assad for exile”.
Source: ‘U.S. Surveillance Caught Syria’s Chemical Weapons Prep’, Spencer Ackerman, The Danger Room on Wired.com, 14 December 2012. This is posted here.

 

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N.B. – There are several references to #CW attacks in Aleppo and Homs in late 2012, but I have only located one specific report — 

23 December 2012: was there a #CW attack in Homs?

December 24, 2012: First reports of chemical weapons use — “Syrian rebels stationed in the city of Homs first accused the government of using chemical weapons. The U.S. disputed the rebels’ claims, saying the weapons used were instead nerve agents due to reports the gas created a strong odor and was inhaled heavily. An odorless gas, Sarin only needed to be inhaled in small amounts”.  This is posted here.

“Opposition activists in Syria are claiming that the embattled regime of Bashar Assad gassed rebel forces in the battleground city of Homs on Sunday. U.S. officials tell Danger Room that they are skeptical about the rebels’ chemical weapon claims, however. Al Jazeera reported that seven people died after inhaling a gas sprayed by government forces in a part of Homs held by the rebel Free Syrian Army. ‘We don’t know what this gas is but medics are saying it’s something similar to sarin’, rebel Raji Rahmet Rabbou told the Qatar-based news organization.  U.S. officials note that several things about the video are inconsistent with a sarin strike. There are complaints of strong smells; sarin is odorless. There are reports that the victims inhaled large amounts of the chemical; a minuscule of amount of inhaled sarin can be fatal. ‘It just doesn’t jibe with chemical weapons’, one U.S. official tells Danger Room.  In fact, the symptoms shown in these videos might have been caused by other chemicals — possibly chlorine, phosgene, or cyanogen chloride, according to one independent review of the clips”.
Source of this report: ‘U.S. Officials Doubt Syrian Rebels’ Chemical Attack Claim’, By Noah Shachtman and David Axe, Wired.com. 24 December 2012, http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/did-syria-just-use-nerve-gas/

From Richard Guthrie’s CBW Events Syria Chronology for First Quarter 2013:
8 January 2013
In the UK, the Independent … makes reference to the alleged attack in Homs [see 23 December 2012] and suggests that General Adnan Sillu, a defector [see 19 September 2012], described in the article as ‘the former head of the Syria’s chemical weapons programme’, has claimed that Sarin was the agent used there. The article quotes Dr Sally Leivesley, described as ‘an independent chemical and hears about the symptoms it’s possible that a harassing agent
rather than a nerve agent was used’.[1]
[1] Kim Sengupta, ‘Britain and US fear Syrian chemical weapons could fall into the hands of extreme Islamist groups’, Independent (London), 8 January 2013. This is posted here
— and —
15 January 2013
A blog on the Foreign Policy website claims that a key source of US government information about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Homs [see 23 December 2012; see also 8 January] was a cable from US consul general in Istanbul, Scott Frederic Kilner. This cable… was revealed to the journalist by an administration official who described it as making a ‘compelling case’ that a material called ‘Agent 15’ had been used. The blog indicates that the consulate’s investigation facilitated by BASMA, an NGO the State Department has hired as one of its implementing partners inside Syria [1] The blog report prompts a number of reactions. The same day, White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is quoted: ‘The reporting we have seen from media sources regarding alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria has not been consistent with what we believe to be true about the Syrian chemical weapons program’[2]…”
[1] Josh Rogin, Exclusive: Secret State Department cable: Chemical weapons used in Syria, Foreign Policy [The Cable blog], 15 January2013.
[2] Arshad Mohammed, U.S. plays down media report that Syria used chemical weapons, Reuters, 16 January 2013; see also Michael R Gordon, Consulate Supported Claim of Syria Gas Attack, Report Says, New York Times, 15 January 2013.
Also [3] Jeffrey Lewis, Why everyone is wrong about Assads zombie gas, Foreign Policy [Buzz bomb blog], 15 January 2013
This is posted here
— and —

[Tweeted later, on 9 September 2013]
Barbara Opall-Rome @OpallRome 9 Sep 2013 – #Israeli expert links #Syrian BZ nerve #gas, (also known as Agent 15) used in Dec 2012 attack in Homs, to Saddam Hussein.
Barbara Opall-Rome @OpallRome 9 Sep 2013 – … BTW, another expert insists military-grade shelf life long expired on Saddam-origin chems

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4 January 2013: Was there a #CW attack in Daraya?

Munitions found, mentioned by Eliot Higgins on his Brown-Moses blog…but there may not have been a #CW attack.

10 January 2013: Danger Room – “It’s been a month since U.S. intelligence learned that Assad’s forces were mixing some of their precursor chemicals for sarin gas, as Danger Room first reported. The Syrian military even loaded aerial bombs with the deadly agent. Assad hasn’t used the weapons — yet. Should he change his mind, there’s little chance the U.S. would know it before it’s too late to stop the first chemical attack in the Mideast in over 20 years. “The act of preventing the use of chemical weapons would be almost unachievable,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. “You would have to have such clarity of intelligence, persistent surveillance, you’d have to actually see it before it happened. And that’s unlikely, to be sure.” This is posted here.

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14 January 2013: The Swiss Mission to the UN in NY sent a letter, signed by 55 other Member States of the UN, to the UN Secretary-General, asking the UN Security Council to act by referring Syria to the International Criminal Court [ICC]. [There is no specific mention of #CW]

A/67/694
S/2013/19
13-20739
2
Annex to the letter dated 14 January 2013 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

We note with regret that the Syrian Arab Republic has, so far, not reacted to repeated calls from the international community to ensure accountability through a national procedure….
We are firmly of the view that the Security Council must ensure accountability for the crimes that seem to have been and continue to be committed in the Syrian Arab Republic…
We therefore ask the Security Council to act by referring the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic as of March 2011 to the International Criminal Court without exceptions and irrespective of the alleged perpetrators. At the very least, the Council should send out an unequivocal message urging the Syrian authorities and all other parties to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law in the ongoing conflict and announcing that it intends to refer the situation to the Court unless a credible, fair and independent accountability process is being established in a timely manner. We believe that such a warning would have an important dissuasive effect. In case of a referral, we further call upon the Council to fully commit the necessary resources and its diplomatic support to any subsequent efforts to investigate crimes and to facilitate the execution of potential arrest warrants.
(Signed) Thomas Gürber
Chargé d’affaires a.i.
Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations
http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2013_19.pdf

VERTIC noted: “Since Syria is not a State Party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, the Court would only have jurisdiction if the UN Security Council referred the situation to the Court.xix In January 2013, Switzerland asked the UN Security Council to do just that. It had the support of 55 states, including two of the Security Council’s P-5 members, France and the United Kingdom, but so far a referral has not yet taken place.  This is posted http://www.vertic.org/media/assets/Presentations/VERTIC_Asser%20UNSG%20and%20Syria%20statement_5sep2013_FINAL.pdf

30 January 2013: Israeli military aircraft carry out an air strike on the territory of Syria, attacking a convoy of vehicles. The air strike comes soon after comments from senior Israeli sources about fears of movement of chemical weapons from Syria.  This is posted
http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/EXSY13Q1.PDF

2 February 2013: On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Joe Biden and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet in private. It is reported that Biden proposes that Russia and the USA should work together to maintain secure control of chemical weapons in Syria should the Assad regime fall.[1]
[1] David Ignatius, Involving Russia in Syria, Washington Post, 4 February 2013

http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/EXSY13Q1.PDF

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19 March 2013: Khan al-Assel – “…news emerged from Syria indicating the first use of chemical weapons since the beginning of the Syrian uprising…” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_weapon

The UK’s Channel 4 news correspondent Alex Tomo reported that an alleged chemical attack took place in Khan al-Assal, west of Aleppo, in government control since March 13 though it was fought over and has changed hands. This #CW attack reportedly killed 26, including Syrian soldiers. From a senior source close to the Syrian Army [ a trusted and hitherto reliable source who does not wish to be identified]: “The Syrian military is said to believe that a home-made locally-manufactured rocket was fired, containing a form of chlorine known as CL17, easily available as a swimming pool cleaner. They claim that the warhead contained a quantity of the gas, dissolved in saline solution … The home-made rocket was fired at a military checkpoint situated at the entrance to the town. The immediate effects were to induce vomiting, fainting , suffocation and seizures among those in the immediate area… A second source – a medic at the local civilian hospital – said that he personally witnessed Syrian army helping those wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene…The military source who spoke to Channel 4 News confirmed that artillery reports from the Syrian Army suggest a small rocket was fired from the vicinity of Al-Bab, a district close to Aleppo that is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra – a jihadist group said to be linked with al-Qaeda and deemed a “terrorist organisation” by the US.
The American and independent weapons analysts do not believe that the regime or rebels used advanced chemical weapons last week, after studying initial intelligence reports and video coverage of survivors on state-run television. However, they suspect that the victims were deliberately exposed to a “caustic” agent such as chlorine. This does not count as a chemical weapon, under terms laid down by international treaties, but as an improvised chemical device would represent a major escalation in the conflict. Satellite intelligence analysed in Washington does not indicate a major missile launch at the time of the alleged attack, but officials said there could have been a “creative use” of a caustic agent. CL17 is normal chlorine for swimming pools or industrial purposes. It is rated as Level 2 under the chemical weapons convention, which means it is dual purpose – it can be used as a weapon as well as for industrial or domestic purposes. Level 1 agents are chemicals whose sole use is as weapons, such as the nerve agents sarin or tabun.
There has been extensive experimentation by insurgents in Iraq in the use of chlorine, which is harmful when mixed with water to form hydrochloric acid. It vapourises quickly, meaning that in a big explosion it will evaporate; in a small blast – for instance, one delivered by a home-made rocket – it will turn into airborne droplets before dispersing quickly… Tellingly, just to the east of Aleppo, there is a rather nondescript factory whose purpose is to produce chlorine.
“Syria chemical weapons: finger pointed at jihadists”, Alex Thomson, Chief Correspondent, Channel 4 News — 6:18PM GMT 23 Mar 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9950036/Syria-chemical-weapons-finger-pointed-at-jihadists.html

The BBC reported: “Syrian rebels and the government have accused each other of firing chemical weapons, reportedly killing at least 25 people in the north of the country. A Syrian minister said it was a “dangerous escalation” and the “first act” of a new rebel authority. However, both a chemical weapons monitoring body and the US said there was no evidence they had been used. Both sides say the attack happened in the Khan al-Assal region north of the second city, Aleppo. The US says it is looking carefully at the allegations, while Russia has backed the Syrian government’s claims. If confirmed, it would be the first time chemical weapons have been used in the two-year Syrian conflict… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21841217

The New York Times on Khan al-Assel: “The Syrian government and Syrian rebels traded accusations about a lethal attack in the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday, in which each side in the country’s two-year-old conflict said the other had used chemical weapons…The first report came from the Syrian state news agency, SANA, which reported that terrorists, its term for armed rebels, had fired a rocket ‘containing chemical materials”…A senior rebel commander and spokesman, Qassem Saadeddine, later accused the government of using chemical weapons in the attack, citing reports of breathing difficulties and bluish skin among victims, but admitted that the reports were secondhand and that he could not provide documentation. Another rebel commander, Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi, head of the rebel military council in Aleppo, said in a telephone interview that he had witnessed the attack, describing it as an errant strike on a government-controlled neighborhood by Syrian warplanes flying at high altitude. He said the explosions from the attack emitted what he described as a gas that appeared to cause suffocation into the Khan al-Assal area of Aleppo Province, killing 16 people and wounding 86. It later raised the death toll to 25…Rebel factions have accused the government of using chemical weapons many times, with no confirmed cases. The term “chemical weapons” has sometimes appeared to be used loosely to include not just deadly nerve agents like sarin gas but also tear gas and other nonlethal irritants used for crowd control…A Reuters photographer was quoted in a report by the [SANA] news agency as saying that he had visited victims in Aleppo hospitals and that they had breathing problems. ‘I saw mostly women and children’, said the photographer, who Reuters said it could not identify out of concern for his safety. ‘They said that people were suffocating in the streets and the air smelled strongly of chlorine’. Rebels have long tried, without success, to overrun a weapons plant near Safira, in Aleppo Province, where chemical weapons are believed to be stored. The Syrian government said in December that rebels had plundered supplies of chlorine gas, but the government’s stores are believed by American officials to consist of other types of chemical weapons…The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group based in Britain that has a network of contacts in Syria, said that 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians had been killed after a rocket landed on Khan al-Assal. Activists said that the government had tried to hit the police academy there, which had recently been taken by rebel forces, with a Scud missile, but that it accidentally fell on a government-controlled area instead. In Washington, the White House cast doubt on claims that the opposition had used chemical weapons and said it was evaluating the possibility that the government had used them”.

‘Syria and Activists Trade Charges on Chemical Weapons’, Anne Barnard, New York Times, 19 March 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/world/middleeast/syria-developments.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Jean Pascal Zanders report for EUISS: The Syrian Government asked for an investigation of attack in Khan al-Assel “Although some statements hinted at pesticide use (nerve agents are chemically close to organophosphorus pesticides), most reports point to chlorine. This claim is intrinsically problematic. Exposure to chlorine stored in a warehouse or near a production installation hit by a shell could account for respiratory problems and skin irritation, but not for a high number of fatalities. One would need a very high volume of the agent to obtain lethal doses in open air; the explosion would most likely destroy part of the agent; and highly recognizable evidence of corrosion at the site of attack could not be missed … The real concern about this episode is that, in the past, allegations of enemy chemical attacks have almost always preceded the initiation of chemical warfare. Syria’s chemical arsenal serves a strategic purpose: it is an instrument to be used only in case of an existential threat to the country (and, presumably, regime)”.

“Chemical Weapon use in Syria?” by Jean Pascal Zanders, 26 March 2013, http://www.iss.europa.eu/uploads/media/Alert_Syria.pdf
or
http://www.iss.europa.eu/publications/detail/article/chemical-weapon-use-in-syria/

[Also See July 9 for Russian Report to UN on Khan al-Assel, contents reported by McClatchy on 5 September 2013]

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19 March 2013: A separate allegation that government forces used chemical weapons in Ataybah near Damascus [Otaiba , east of Ghouta] is also made but there is some ambiguity of the suggested date of this alleged attack…
http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/EXSY13Q1.PDF

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14 March 2013 – 23 May 2013: The Le Monde article [published on 27 May 2013] — the #CW attacks reported by the Le Monde journalists are another indication that the 19 March attack in Khan al-Assel may well not have been the 1st use of #CW in Syria.

The Le Monde article mentions the following attacks [the mention in the article of their numbering is confusing — it appears to have become confused, most likely during Le Monde’s editing process]:

14 March in Otaiba [east of Ghouta]
18 March in Otaiba [east of Ghouta]
24 March in Adra
11 April in Jobar
13 April in Jobar
14 April in Jobar
18 April in Jobar
23 May in Adra

Le Monde article – “Reporters for Le Monde spent two months clandestinely in the Damascus area alongside Syrian rebels. They describe the extent of the Syrian tragedy, the intensity of the fighting, the humanitarian drama. On the scene during chemical weapons attacks, they bear witness to the use of toxic arms by the government of Bashar al-Assad”.

1st attack in Jobar was Thursday 11 April 2013 [in Aleppo + Homs earlier]; another one [in Jobar] on 13 April 2013 affected the Le Monde photographer…In the second half of April, gas attacks became almost a strange kind of routine in Jobar…Adra, Otaiba and Jobar are three places in the Damascus region where local sources have been describing the use of gas since March. But a difference has emerged: In Jobar, the products have been used more cautiously, with specific localities targeted. Along fronts further from the capital, however, like Adra and Otaiba, the quantities used are estimated to be”.

Jobar [on the outskirts of Damascus], has become a key battleground for both the Free Syrian Army and the government. In two months spent reporting on the outskirts of the Syrian captial, we encountered similar cases across a much larger region. Their gravity, their increasing frequency and the tactic of using such arms shows that what is being released is not just tear gas, which is used on all fronts, but products of a different class that are far more toxic…The gas was not diffused over a broad swath of territory but used occasionally in specific locations by government forces to attack the areas of toughest fighting with the encroaching opposition rebels … Le Monde’s reporters visited eight medical centers in the eastern part of the Ghouta region and found only two where medical directors said they had not seen fighters or civilians affected by gas attacks …

“Chemical Warfare in Syria” by Jean-Philippe Rémy, 27 May 2013, http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/chemical-war-in-syria_3417708_3218.html
French version = http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/syrie-le-monde-temoin-d-attaques-toxiques_3417225_3218.html

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Another article, by Tom Wyld [“A former Navy Commander {who} has served since 2008 as intelligence director for a private security firm specializing in training and operational support of U.S. Navy SEALs”] was published on The Brenner Brief on 21 August:
Mid-April 2013 – [Jobar in eastern suburbs of Damascus – 20 hospitalized + later tests in France showed sarin].
Tom Wyld: “Another confirmation occurred April 2013 when Assad deployed CW in Jobar, a Damascus suburb. The first use of CW in Close Quarters Battle (CQB), regime forces used CW in Jobar to force the retreat of rebel snipers who had established a ‘kill box’ in the streets”. http://www.thebrennerbrief.com/2013/08/21/chemical-weapons-kill-some-1300-in-syria-iranhezbollah-involvement-likely/

Also from illustration on Tom Wyld’s report:
June 2013: “In an outpost abandoned by regime fighters, civilians in Ghouta found Russian-made chemical weapons dosage detectors, man-portable kits to determine agents and degree of exposure. On the right, a test kit for Sarin. On the left is a test for Phosgene; in the middle, a test for Yperite, another name for Sulfur Mustard. (Grab drawn from LiveLeak, 02:14, Arabic = http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=513_1370866795 )”.
And…
“On 1 June, I warned that, because of its dominance of the Ghouta battlefield, Hezbollah’s fingers were likely on the CW trigger. The weekend before I made that assessment, a physician in Ghouta treated a victim using the protocol for Phosgene exposure, a lung-damaging agent (YouTube, 01:20, Arabic = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePBuzfzDt80&feature=youtu.be … video was posted on 26 May 2013 by MarjMedicalUnit ). Again, chemical weapons use in Syria is not rare but common, and there is no “red line.
http://www.thebrennerbrief.com/2013/08/21/chemical-weapons-kill-some-1300-in-syria-iranhezbollah-involvement-likely/

Plus:

Image of Syrian Army Directive from The Brenner Brief
Image of Syrian Army Directive from The Brenner Brief

Tom Wyld: Fact #1: Chemical weapons use in Syria is not rare. It is common. Fact #2: There is no “red line.” This directive from the Commander, 7th Regiment, Syrian Arab Army, ordered all soldiers in 5 towns in Ghouta to carry gas masks (Hat Tip: “Delta”). The 29 April 2013 directive corresponds with the visit to Ghouta by two Le Monde reporters. They visited 8 medical facilities in East Ghouta; 6 had treated patients for CW exposure. Le Monde found one physician who had treated 150 cases over a 2-week period = http://www.thebrennerbrief.com/2013/08/21/chemical-weapons-kill-some-1300-in-syria-iranhezbollah-involvement-likely/

 

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23 April 2013: IDF Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, Head of the Research Division in the Israeli Military Intelligence, confirmed,  in a presentation he made at the Institute of National Security Studies [INSS] in Tel Aviv that, based on good information,  the Syrian regime had indeed used #CW.

Baron [Brun] said: “We believe the regime has, and is using chemical weapons”.  He informed those attending the INSS conference in Tel Aviv that “Assad has access to an enormous arsenal of chemical weapons, and that some of those deadly arms have already been put to use, including the probable use of poisonous Sarin gas.  He expressed concern over the fact that the international community has failed to respond appropriately to the highly worrying development”. See: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/IDF-intelligence-research-head-Assad-used-sarin-gas-310773

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25 April 2013: During a trip to the United Arab Emirates, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the US intelligence community believed the Syrian government had used sarin gas on a small scale against rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Also on 25 April 2013, the White House delivered a letter to 2 members of Congress on the topic of chemical weapons use in Syria, saying that US intelligence had confirmed the information “to some degree of varying confidence.”
http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/syria/cw.htm

The French Government report mentions attacks on 2 dates:
12/13/14 April 2013  – [Jobar in eastern suburbs of Damascus – 20 hospitalized + later tests in France showed sarin].
29 April 2013 – Saraqeb 30 km South-East of Idleb high-flying helicopter drops small munitions white smoke [France = sarin] 40 people hospitalized

“Dans les combats engagés contre l’opposition au régime du Président Assad, Damas a déjà employé de telles armes, notamment du sarin, dans des attaques limitées contre sa propre population, en particulier au mois d’avril 2013”.

“Les services compétents français ont récupéré des échantillons biomédicaux (sang, urine), environnementaux (sol) et matériels (munitions), prélevés sur des victimes ou sur les sites des attaques de Saraqeb, le 29 avril 2013, et de Jobar, à la mi-avril 2013. Les analyses conduites ont confirmé l’emploi de sarin”.
Syrie_synthese_nationale_de_renseignement_declassifie_02_09_2013.pdf

 

But other attacks were reported, before and after [ in March + April ] – for example, in the report of the Victims Documentation Center in Syria =

A Report of the use of chemical Weapons in Syria (Damascus the capital, Jobar neighborhood)
Center For Documentation Of Violations in Syria
April 2013

4th of April 2013 in jobar neighborhood of Damascus suburb, the VDC has documented that four soldiers of the Free Syrian army were exposed to toxic gases while fighting on the frontline [and] they were taken to the (Pharaonic Medical center), which is a subdivision of the unified medical center in the eastern Ghota region…

6 April, 22 young men then hours later 6 new cases.
14 April 2013: regime’s forces have used grenades that caused those effects on the armed opposition fighters in Jobar Neighborhood-Abasieen Territory… Airstrikes were not used to fire those bombs, and field activists couldn’t precisely define the method used for firing those bombs, whether rocket launchers were used or any other means, but it is mostly thought they were thrown at the opposition’s fighters to force them to retreat, in their quest to storm the area. Upon authorization by activists, we confirmed the exact Coordinates where FSA soldiers were subject to chemical weapons attacks on 04/04/2013, 06/04/2013 and 14/04/2013…?
Among the cases listed earlier on 14/04/2013 in Jobar neighborhood in the capital Damascus, the center documented one death case as a result of inhaling these gases. The martyr Ibrahim darwish from the brigade (Al-Ghootah commandos) of the Syrian free Army,where a video footage was recorded and uploaded on the brigade’s channel on YouTube. claiming that he was the first martyr to cite after being exposed to a chemical weapon in the frontline of Joabr-neighborhood on the eastern-Ghootah, but the center was unable to confirm the news immediately due to have difficulties communicating with the brigade Below is the footage for Martyr Ibrahim: : http://goo.gl/wuRzH
16/04/2013.
17/04/2013 – on the frontline of Jobar’s neighborhood, where activists have recorded this footage, showing one of the infected patients suffering a difficulty in breathing http://goo.

13/04/2013 – Alshekh Maqood neighborhood in the province of Aleppo: 14 death cases were documented as a result of chemical weapon’s use. http://goo.gl/qUBW8
19/03/2013 – Al’aotaibah territory in the province of Damascus countryside: 9 death cases were documented as a result of chemical weapons’ use. http://goo.gl/CM9R9
24/03/2013 – Dumah territory in the province of Damascus countryside: 2 death cases were documented as a result of chemical weapons’ use http://goo.gl/rCIdV
19/03/2013 – Khan Al-A’asal territory in the province of Aleppo: 22 death cases were documented as a result of chemical weapons’ use. http://goo.gl/YDKFI

25/03/2013 – on the front line of Daraya in Damascus suburb, 9 infected patients arrived at the field hospital, suffering suffocation as a result of being exposed to toxic gases on 25/03/2013. http://goo.gl/iWmES
http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/reports/chemicaljobar

 

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April 29, 2013: Defecting Syrian Officer Brigadier-General Zaher Al-Saket: I Was Ordered to Use Chemical Weapons Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai/Saudi Arabia) – April 27, 2013
Alexblx @Alexblx [Sept 2013] Very important statement from Defected #Syria General: “I Was Ordered to Use Chemical Weapons” ENGLISH SUBTITLES http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB_43l9Hb6c&feature=youtu.be …
MEMRI TV provided the English subtitles, which have General al-Saket saying that Assad regime had binary #CW + he was ordered to use them but he substituted one with bleach [diluted w/ water]

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End May 2013: Scott Peterson reported in the Christian Science Monitor [on 9 September 2013] that “Reports of chemical weapons incidents began to multiply at the beginning of 2013, with accusations leveled at both sides but always denied. At the end of May, Turkish media reported the arrest of seven members of the rebel-allied jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra in two southern Turkish cities, as well as the discovery of two kilograms of sarin gas in the suspects’ homes”.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0909/Leaked-Iranian-letter-warned-US-that-Syrian-rebels-have-chemical-weapons?cmpid=addthis_twitter#.Ui4drU5mYcU.twitter

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23 May 2013:  Other reports say that 12 Jabhat al-Nusra men were arrested 23 May 2013 in Adana Turkey, of whom six were indicted in September 2013 —

“Turkish prosecutor indicts six Jihadists for alleged attempts to acquire chemicals with intent to produce sarin”

by Resho Bistuyek
“The Turkish Republican Prosecutor in Adana has issued a 132-page indictment, alleging that six members of the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham – one Syrian and five Turks – tried to acquire chemicals with the intent to produce the chemical weapon sarin. The Turkish newspaper Radikal reports that the suspects were under surveillance by Turkish police after they received information that the al-Nusra members tried to acquire two government-regulated military-grade chemical substances. 11 people were arrested in their safe house in the city of Adana in southeastern Turkey on May 23, 2013, after they had acquired some of the chemicals. Initial reports to media had indicated that the Jihadists had been in possession of 2.2 kg Sarin gas when arrested. Five of the detained Jihadists were released by Turkish police after interrogation and background checks. Media reports indicates that the five released were Turkish nationals who shortly after being released joined al-Nusra Front in Syria…The prosecutor’s indictment lists the following items as attempted to be acquired by the Jihadists:
• Timed fuses
• Chrome pipes
• Thionyl Chloride (SOCl2)
• Potassium Fluoride (KF)
• Methanol (CH3OH)
• Isopropanol (C3H8O)
• Isopropanolamine (C3H9NO)
• White Phosphorus (P4)
• Medical Glucose
• Bauxite … “
“Turkish prosecutor indicts six Jihadists for alleged attempts to acquire chemicals with intent to produce sarin”, by Resho Bistuyek , The Kurdish Cause blog, Thursday, September 12, 2013 = http://thekurdishcause.blogspot.com/2013/09/turkish-prosecutor-indicts-six.html?spref=tw

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27 May 2013: The Le Monde article reports on some eight attacks that took place from 14 March to 23 May 2013 [see 14 March 2013, above]

[The Le Monde article mentioned doctors collecting various biological and soil and clothing samples, and sending them outside of Syria for lab testing…  A month later,  Le Monde reported that its journalist brought back samples, and that they had tested positive for sarin — see 28 June 2013, below.]

“Chemical Warfare in Syria” by Jean-Philippe Rémy, 27 May 2013, http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/chemical-war-in-syria_3417708_3218.html

French version = http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/syrie-le-monde-temoin-d-attaques-toxiques_3417225_3218.html

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29 May 2013: The BBC Correspondent at the UN in NY reported on Twitter that the UK “passed” new information on #CW use in Syria to the UN —
Barbara Plett @BBCBarbaraPlett 29 May 2013 — #Britain says it’s passed new info of #Syria chemical weapons use to #UN, no comment on details or credibility of reports submitted

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11 June 2013 – was there a #CW attack in Adra?
Here, the only evidence is the munition. Eliot Higgins has posted on his Brown Moses blog here and on Youtube here, a video entitled: “Unidentified Rocket Or Missile In Adra June 11th 2013”, which shows, he pointed out, “the remains of the same munition [= the same as those used on August 5 in Adra and in Ghouta on 21 August], with claims it was a ‘chemical rocket’.”

 

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28 June 2013: Le Monde reports that lab tests on biological and environmental samples brought back from Syria by Le Monde reporters confirn positive results for sarin:

“Le résultat final des analyses d’échantillons que des reporteurs du Monde ont recueillis en Syrie et acheminés hors du pays confirme l’utilisation de sarin, un liquide hautement toxique appartenant à la catégorie des armes chimiques, à Damas et dans sa région. Le Monde est en mesure de confirmer la contamination au sarin de treize victimes. Ce résultat indique l’ampleur de l’utilisation du sarin par les forces gouvernementales syriennes au cours des mois d’avril et de mai sur les lignes de front de Jobar et de la Ghouta, près de Damas”.

Cette seconde série d’analyses de sang, d’urine, de cheveux et d’habits a été réalisée dans la continuité de la première sur des échantillons rapportés de Syrie. Elle a été menée par le Centre d’études du Bouchet – seul laboratoire en France équipé pour produire des résultats certifiés dans le domaine des armes chimiques et qui dépend de la Délégation générale de l’armement, et confirme les résultats, rendus publics le 4 juin par le ministre des affaires étrangères français, Laurent Fabius, et par Le Monde, des trois premiers échantillons analyses”.

Source: Jean-Philippe Rémy, “Des analyses confirment l’ampleur de l’usage de sarin en Syrie,” Le Monde, June 28, 2013, http://www.http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/06/28/des-analyses-confirment-l-ampleur-de-l-usage-de-sarin-en-syrie_3438187_3218.html [accessed by MHouk on 18 September 2013]

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From Richard Guthrie’s CBW Events Syria Chronology for Third Quarter 2013:
1 July 2013
In the UK House of Commons, the Foreign Office is asked if they will ‘publish in full the evidential basis
for the Prime Minister’s statement [see 14 June] that the Syrian Government has used chemical weapons against
Syrian people’. The Minister replies:[1]
We have physiological samples from inside Syria which have been tested at Porton Down and which have tested positive for
sarin. We believe that chemical weapons have been used by the Assad Regime. However, the process of gathering more
information is ongoing …[And] we cannot publish details regarding samples or specific incidents where to do so could put
our sources of information at risk. The Prime Minister has tasked the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee to give the National Security Council frequently updated assessments of the information we and our allies have.
[1] Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Written Answer, 1 July 2013,
Hansard (Commons), vol 565, c509-10, in response to Paul Flynn MP

4 July 2013
[SNC claims use of ‘toxic gases’ by government forces to gain a tactical advantage in the battle for Homs. Wassif Shemali, an SNC representative quoted:
‘They are using weapons of mass destruction against Homs, while the international community does nothing’ — Damien McElroy, ‘Syria: West seeks to secure evidence chemical weapons used in Homs’,
Daily Telegraph (London), 6 July 2013.]

8 July 2013
Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, claims that Syrian authorities have discovered a cache of toxic
chemicals of about 280 containers filled with various toxic substances, ‘enough to destroy a whole city, if not the whole country’, in an area ‘controlled and supervised by armed anti-government groups’.[1] The industrial chemicals, said to have been found on 7 July in the coastal town of Bania, were listed as 79 barrels of polyethylene glycol (PEG), 67 barrels of mono ethylene glycol, 25 barrels of mono ethanol (or ethanolamine) and 68 barrels of diethanolamine (DEA) and 42 barrels of triethanolamine (TEA).[2]
[1] [No author listed], ‘Syrian Gov’t Claims Massive Seizure of Toxic Chemicals’, RIA Novosti, 8 July 2013.
[2] [No author listed], ‘Syria claims discovery of enough chemical weapons to ‘‘destroy a country’’’, Xinhua, 9 July 2013.

These entries are posted here.

9 July 2013
[Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin] is further reported to say that the chemical agent [used in the attack on Khan al-Assel] was carried by a ‘Bashair-3 unguided projectile’, allegedly produced by the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade, one of the opposition units associated with the Free Syrian Army, and that the projectile involved is not a ‘standard one for chemical use’. He is quoted thus: ‘The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the ordnance used in Khan al-Assal was not industrially manufactured and was filled with sarin’ and: ‘Hexogen, utilised as an opening charge, is not utilised in standard ammunitions. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal’.[2] [Note Hexogen is also known as RDX.]’
Some two months later, further details of the report are made public.[3]
[2] [No author listed], Russia claims Syria rebels used sarin at Khan al-Assal’, BBC News, 9 July 2013.
[3] [No author listed], Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons’, Russia Today, 4 September 2013; Matthew Schofield, Russia gave UN 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for Aleppo sarin attack, McClatchy Washington Bureau, 5 September 20
http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/2013-0912_SY_chrono_Q3_snapshot.PDF

 

 

And —

VERTIC: In July this year, the ‘Independent International Commission of Inquiry for the Syrian Arab Republic’ reported to the UN Human Rights Council that “[i]n four attacks … there are reasonable grounds to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used. It has not been possible, on the evidence available, to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator.” The Independent International Commission relied on first-hand accounts, but did not have access to Syria. France, the United Kingdom and the United States have not given sufficient information on how they reached their conclusions or to prove the veracity of their findings. For example, they have not claimed how chain of custody of the samples was adequately maintained. Much importance has therefore been placed on the only international investigation mechanism available in this case, namely the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons.  This is posted here.

9 July 2013: “Russia said its investigation of the March 19 incident was conducted under strict protocols established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that governs adherence to treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. It said samples that Russian technicians had collected had been sent to OPCW-certified laboratories in Russia”.
“Russia gave UN 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for Aleppo sarin attack”, by Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Foreign Staff, 5 September 2013, published here.

 

22 July 2013: A further claim of use of chemical weapons is made. From Turkey, the Syrian Coalition releases a statement which includes: ‘According to video footage uploaded by activists inside the capital of Damascus,  Assad’s forces are using chemical and toxic gas bombs to shell the Yarmouk Palestinian Camp. The strategic, systematic use of chemical weapons in order to achieve military gains only proves the desperate state that Assad’s regime has reached’.[1]
[1] Syrian Coalition, Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons in the Yarmouk Palestinian Camp’, media statement, 22 July 2013

 

23 July 2013: [Holding entry, needs further work.]: The UN has thus far received 13 reports of allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria — Robert H. Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Briefing to the Security Council On the Situation in the Middle East, 23 July 2013]

 

5 August 2013 = Laylat al-Qadr, the “Night of Power”, the 27th of Ramadan

 

5 August 2013: “On August 5th, two areas of Damascus, Douma and Adra, were hit by an alleged chemical attack, with around 400 victims reported injured in Douma, and at least a couple of dozen in Adra … It seems clear that these are the same type of munition later lrecovered from the August 21st attack in Eastern Ghouta, and examined by the UN. It would seem that rather than being a freak incident, the August 21st attack was the second to occur in Damascus within 3 weeks. If the UN report does point towards these munitions being used to deliver the chemical agent, then it seems to strongly suggest the August 5th attack was also a chemical attack using the same type of munition, and might put previous alleged chemical attacks in the Damascus area in a new light”. This is posted here.

5 August 2013: HRW: On August 5, 2013, opposition activists filmed what appears to be the remnants of the chemical weapons-carrying variant (with the extra fill plug visible, as well as the red numbering system) of the 330mm rocket in the `Adra suburb of Damascus, in what they alleged was a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces. [See HRW report of 10 September 2013, in Part 2 of this Working Draft Outline]

5 August 2013: The Syrian National Coalition alleges an attack in Adra and Duma in the Damascus suburbs.[1] British television service ITV News interviews a Syrian doctor, Abu Ghafer, by telephone. He says: ‘Locals believe that regime forces dropped shells filled with Sarin gas onto neighbouring deserted fields and farms. The wind blew across remnants of the chemical. Many people began to panic in a highly populated area. Some had severe respiratory attacks and were given local drugs. The majority of people treated themselves with water and damp cloths. Symptoms included breathlessness, suffocation and blurred vision. Many also had panic attacks’.[2]  The Syrian government issues an official denial and calls the allegations ‘lies and groundless’.[3] The Brown Moses blog, run by British-based blogger Elliot Higgins, contains photographs of rockets alleged to have been used at this location on this day. The rockets appear to be visually similar to those reported in Daraya on 4 Januaryand Adra on 11 June.[4]

[1] [*CHK details of SNC claim*]

[2] [No author listed], ‘Syrian doctor describes aftermath of ‘‘chemical attack’’’, ITV News, 5 August 2013

[3] [No author listed], Syrian govt denies using chemical weapons against citizens, KUNA, 6 August 2013

[4] Martin Chulov, Ian Sample, Angelique Chrisafis and Peter Beaumont, ‘Syria deaths: powerful asphyxiant in strike was probably sarin, say experts’, Guardian (London), 23 August 2013, pp 4-5.

5 August 2013: [conventional attacks in Latakia]“a brutal killing spree in Latakia on Laylat al-Qadr early in the morning of August 5, an attack that affected more than 500 people, including children, women and the elderly. They were all slaughtered. The atrocities committed exceed any scale. But there was close to nothing about it in the international mass media, only one small article in “The Independent”,  I believe… A total of twelve Alawite villages were subjected to this horrendous attack… People were mutilated and beheaded. There is even a video that shows a girl being dismembered alive – alive! – by a frame saw. The final death toll exceeded 400, with 150 to 200 people taken hostage. Later some of the hostages were killed, their deaths filmed” http://rt.com/op-edge/mother-chemical-attack-footage-fraud-509/#.Uin_1cZgRAl.twitter]

 

5 August 2013: was there a #CW attack, or a conventional explosives attack, in Yabroud?
 

 

From Richard Guthrie’s CBW Events Syria Chronology for Third Quarter 2013:

13 August 2013: The United Nations announces: “the team probing the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria has completed all the necessary logistical arrangements for its visit to the country and is now awaiting the Government’s acceptance of the modalities for the mission’ [1] …

[1] United Nations Department of Public Information, ‘With logistics complete, UN chemical weapons investigators await go-ahead from Syria’, press release, 13 August 2013

14 August 2013: In New York, the UN Secretary-General announces: “the Government of Syria has formally accepted the modalities essential for cooperation to ensure the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the Mission. The departure of the team is now imminent. As agreed with the Government of Syria, the team will remain in the country to conduct its activities, including on-site visits, for a period of up to 14 days, extendable upon mutual consent’.[1] 

[1] United Nations Secretary-General, Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic’, 14 August 2013.

 

18 August 2013: The team of UN #CW investigators arrives in Damascus.

—  End of Part 1  —

27 May 2013: The Le Monde article — #CW attacks reported in the Le Monde Article are another indication that the 19 March attack in Khan al-Assel may well not have been the 1st use of #CW in Syria.

The Le Monde article mentions the following attacks [the mention in the article of their numbering is confusing in the article,  and appears to have become confused during Le Monde’s editing process]:

14 March in Otaiba [east of Ghouta]

18 March in Otaiba

24 March in Adra

11 April in Jobar

13 April in Jobar

14 April in Jobar

18 April in Jobar

23 May in Adra

 

Le Monde article – “Reporters for Le Monde spent two months clandestinely in the Damascus area alongside Syrian rebels. They describe the extent of the Syrian tragedy, the intensity of the fighting, the humanitarian drama. On the scene during chemical weapons attacks, they bear witness to the use of toxic arms by the government of Bashar al-Assad”.

 1st attack in Jobar was Thursday 11 April 2013 [in Aleppo + Homs earlier]; another one [in Jobar] apparently on 13 April 2013 affected the Le Monde photographer, Laurent Van der Stockt [lab tests in France revealed he had been exposed to Sarin — see 28 June 2013.  In the second half of April, gas attacks became almost a strange kind of routine in Jobar…

Jobar [on the outskirts of Damascus], has become a key battleground for both the Free Syrian Army and the government. In two months spent reporting on the outskirts of the Syrian captial, we encountered similar cases across a much larger region. Their gravity, their increasing frequency and the tactic of using such arms shows that what is being released is not just tear gas, which is used on all fronts, but products of a different class that are far more toxic…The gas was not diffused over a broad swath of territory but used occasionally in specific locations by government forces to attack the areas of toughest fighting with the encroaching opposition rebels … Le Monde’s reporters visited eight medical centers in the eastern part of the Ghouta region and found only two where medical directors said they had not seen fighters or civilians affected by gas attacks … Adra, Otaiba and Jobar are three places in the Damascus region where local sources have been describing the use of gas since March. But a difference has emerged: In Jobar, the products have been used more cautiously, with specific localities targeted. Along fronts further from the capital, however, like Adra and Otaiba, the quantities used are estimated to be”.

[The Le Monde article mentioned doctors collecting various biological and soil and clothing samples, and sending them outside of Syria for lab testing…]

“Chemical Warfare in Syria” by Jean-Philippe Rémy, 27 May 2013, http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/chemical-war-in-syria_3417708_3218.html

French version = http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/syrie-le-monde-temoin-d-attaques-toxiques_3417225_3218.html

 

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